04/11/2014 05:56 EDT | Updated 06/11/2014 05:59 EDT

MLS figures show wide pay divide but TFC boss says good players get their rewards

TORONTO - Former MLS player Herculez Gomez marked the release of the league's salary list with a tweet and a telling hashtag.

"So MLS salaries were published today. Never an easy day for anyone, very uncomfortable for all. Low or high paid. #ElephantInRoom."

While salary transparency is part of doing business in North American sports, it is rare in the soccer world outside of MLS. But here, they are released by the Major Soccer League Players Union.

The pay discrepancy between the stars and grunts is especially striking in MLS, where a few elite are paid outside the salary cap. The rest make do in a league that holds most of the cards when it comes to salary negotiations and free agency.

At his current annual salary of $48,825 (all figures in U.S. dollars), it would take defender Mark Bloom four years ($195,300) to make what Toronto FC teammate Michael Bradley makes in one game ($191,176).

Bloom, a well-spoken 26-year-old who has started all four of Toronto's games this season, is not about to make waves on the subject.

"It really doesn't mean much to me," he said after practice Friday "I'm going to come here and do what I always do, just work hard as, work as hard as I can, improve myself day in and day out.

"Those figures, you can't read too much into these. You get worried about the business side of it, then your head's going to be out of the game. So I'm just focusing on what's going in on the field."

Did you look at the salary figures, he was asked.

"I did. Of course," he replied with a smile.

"There's a pretty wide gap. You can see that every player is pretty much underpaid," he added when pressed. "Hopefully that will get fixed and that will be addressed."

Bloom joined Toronto last year after playing his way out of the minor leagues. Ironically he got his chance to start late last season when the club elected to bench English fullback Richard Eckersley, who was on the way out because of his high contract number.

Bloom made $46,500 last season, about one-tenth of Eckersley's pay.

Manager Ryan Nelsen acknowledges the difference in pay scale can cause problems within the locker-room when the numbers are revealed.

"It does if you've got bad characters. Definitely," he said. "If you've got guys who are insecure about themselves or a wee bit jealous, yeah. A lot of teams have a lot of problems with that.

"Fortunately, nobody can argue what Michael Bradley's done in his career or Jermain Defoe's done in his career. And anybody who questions the difference, I just say 'Well go and do that. Then you can go and ask for that money.'"

But Nelsen agrees salaries need to be raised at the bottom end.

"I think they will address that," he said of MLS.

Nelsen says he has been in both camps, making $24,000 as an MLS rookie in 2001 and then watching his pay grow as an English Premier League veteran.

"You've got to earn it," he said.

"I always think that the market determines what you get paid. And those guys at the lower end, if they perform well, they get paid better. It's just a matter of time"

Under MLS rules, a first-team roster is comprised of up to 30 players with players occupying roster spots 1-20 counting against the club's 2014 salary cap of $3.1 million.

Players occupying roster spots 1-24 must earn at least $48,500 this year while the minimum for roster spots 25-30 is $36,500.

Bradley is one of three TFC designated players, meaning only $387,500 of his US$6.5-million salary counts against the cap.

Bloom, whose wife is expecting their first child, did note that players who play well do get pay bumps.

Just look at 21-year-old Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio who, after becoming a starter as a rookie last year, went to $142,600 this season from $46,500.

Osorio says Bradley and fellow DPs Defoe ($6.18 million) and Gilberto ($1.2 million) have fit in smoothly.

"They're great guys. They're not egotistical, noting like that," he said.

"And (Brazil goalkeeper) Julio Cesar is a tremendous guy too."